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How Do You Keep Your Web Presence Relevant?

One of the demands of digital media today is to find ways to be sure that your practice's image is relevant and current to the patients and consumers you're hoping to attract.

In another special feature this month, we include the observations of an experienced web veteran, Bob Main, who consults with optical retailers and practitioners about how to make their social media and web presence most effective. We also take a look at new options for you in automating your patient communications — and still, enabling a personalized, knowledgeable optical touch to those communications via a new service targeting optical professionals in a collaboration between 6calls and 4PatientCare.

CLICK, Vision Monday's e-newsletter, continues to be an essential resource in its twice-monthly briefings to ECPs about web technology and Internet developments. Past articles, featuring specific examples, programs and tips that you can use today, are available in our CLICK Archive. Don't forget the CLICK Archive features dozens of Cool Tools and important Sites to See which offer content and resource ideas for your sites and your social media activities. The easy-to-access Archives are located under the CLICK button at

Have you tried something new on your website or launched a special social media campaign?
Tell us about it and we'll consider it for an upcoming feature in CLICK.

—The Editors




Is Your Practice Falling Prey To The "Blockbuster Syndrome"?

By Bob Main

What the heck is a "Blockbuster Syndrome"? Before you totally dismiss this article, please read on. You might be surprised how much the average ECP practice has in common with the once behemoth movie rental company, Blockbuster. We can learn a lot from their rise and fall.

Remember back 20 years ago when there was a mom-and-pop movie rental store in every town? Then, in the late 80's and early 90's, a company called Blockbuster began to take over the movie rental market, and put a lot of the mom-and-pop stores out of business (see Wikipedia for a detailed history of Blockbuster). It was sad to see the small movie rental stores go away, but wow, the selection and convenience that Blockbuster offered was just what the consumer wanted (at that time). Fast forward to 2009 when Blockbuster had 5,000 stores and 60,000 employees spread over 17 countries worldwide. How could anybody compete with this monster company?

Well, now you probably know that Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy last September (2010) and a few weeks ago, Dish Network won the right to purchase Blockbuster's assets at auction for around $230 million. This is the same company that was purchased by Viacom for $8.4 billion in the mid 90's.

So what happened and what can we learn from this fall from grace? If you really look at the company's sordid history, they were very arrogant and did not listen to their customers. Their CEO made statements in interviews to the effect that they were too big and had too much market share for anyone to compete. When startup companies like Netflix and Redbox came along, they dismissed them as no-threat. Blockbuster management did not listen to the consumer. Redbox and Netflix did listen to the consumer and built their newer business model around what the consumer wanted; convenience and affordable entertainment. Blockbuster did not pay attention to the changing trends in how the consumer wanted their entertainment.

The other day, my teenage son and I pulled up to a 7-Eleven and saw a Blockbuster movie rental machine (like the Redbox ones that are everywhere). My teenage son said, "Wow, they are a day late and a dollar short". Even my teenage son recognizes that Blockbuster was too slow to make the changes to meet the consumers' demands!

Every business listen to the consumer (a.k.a. – your current and potential patients). There is a ton of data to support the fact that the consumer is changing the way they shop (and purchase) products. A few years ago, who would have thought that anybody would buy shoes on the internet. Don't you have to try on the shoes first? But is now a billion dollar company that sells shoes online. Consumers are changing the way they buy shoes, jewelry, rent movies and (can you see this coming) they are changing they way they shop for (and buy) eyeglasses! The consumer is looking for convenience, selection and increased value.

This is not to say that every patient will immediately stop coming into your practice to purchase eyeglasses. Less than 3% of glasses are purchased online currently (hard to get a real number since most online eyeglass retailers are private companies that don't report sales). If the trend in online eyeglass sales parallels other consumer online shopping trends, our industry will probably give up about 10% to 15% to online sales. I'm sure there will be a lot of debate over how much the percentage will actually be, but in 2001 did you think online contact lens sales would eventually approach 20%?

What can the "average" ECP do? First, recognize that some of your patients' needs and shopping habits are changing. They want (and need) convenience, selection and better value. Consumers are using the internet to help them make shopping (eyeglass purchasing) decisions. Every ECP needs to be developing an "online presence" strategy for their practice. That doesn't mean that you must sell eyeglasses online to compete. That is an individual decision. However, every ECP needs to have a credible presence at the place where their current and future patients are hanging out—that is the internet. This includes Facebook, Foursquare, blogs and it is critical to have a quality (professionally developed) practice website. A good internet strategy is a wonderful opportunity to compete on a level playing field with the big box guys and online eyeglass retailers, without spending a ton of money. For example, a good Facebook page will engage, entertain and inform your patients (and potential patients). That means providing quality content and paying daily attention to it. Be sure to inform current patients about your Facebook page and ask them to get connected to your practice by "Liking" your Facebook page (put signs in your practice, mention in newsletters and all printed material).

Let's use the Blockbuster situation as a wakeup call. The next time you drive by a Blockbuster store or see a Redbox movie rental machine, think about how you are reshaping your practice to meet the changing needs of your patients. Hopefully, you are using the power of the internet to mirror the success of Redbox instead of falling prey to the "Blockbuster Syndrome".

Bob Main is an optical industry veteran, with over 25 years of retail optical experience and the last 5 years specifically engaged in internet marketing and social media. This article is adapted from Bob's blog, which offers ECPs and optical retailers the information they need to learn how to grow their practice/business using the power of the internet.



New Types of Patient Communications: Cooperation Between 6calls and 4PatientCare

INDIANAPOLIS—6calls and 4PatientCare have announced a strategic "cooperative agreement" which allows the two companies to include the others patient communication solutions into their own product lineup.

Prior to the agreement, 6calls offered optical practices "live" opticians to fulfill their patient communication needs and 4PatientCare offered automated solutions such as speech, SMS texting, and email.

"The agreement allows the two companies to offer a complete patient communication solution to optical practices" said Mike Karlsrud, CEO of 6calls, based here. "Both can now offer a one-stop solution that provides all the services to reach patients today, no matter how they would like to be communicated with."

6calls will be offering the extended services through their "Telecare Plus" program and 4PatientCare will include the "live" option as part of their "Intelligent Escalation" solution.

6calls is a tele-service company staffed by optical professionals and trained opticians who provide sales and marketing services to optical practices and suppliers. 4PatientCare, based in Long Beach, Calif., offers multi-modal, intelligent, interactive messaging solutions that integrate administrative, clinical and health plan messaging needs.

The company has partnered with a number of healthcare and eyecare-related sites to help practices better improve their patient communications, from reminders, recalls and pickups to other services. The services are customizable and result in filling practice appointment schedules, reducing no-show rates and improving patient retention.



Developed by the same company that developed the popular Wordpress blogging platform, PollDaddy is a customizable tool that enables users to create polls and quizzes in the formats they prefer for embedding on websites and social media pages. Polls can gauge audience feedback, quizzes can test their knowledge on a topic, and all are made functional via a CMS system. There are different levels of participation and features, depending on the sign up level you choose. Some of these allow integration of images and other features; sharing is made simpler via the PollDaddy tools. The site features a two-minute video overview.



A customizable survey tool which enables users to create unique polls and surveys for your website or social media audience. Fast and easy to use, there are a range of templates and colors to choose from, and depending on the level of signup, you can track live-time results, share and embed on Facebook or Twitter pages and the surveys generate a range of reports for you to analyze. Basic, Pro and Premium levels provide a tiered range of benefits and prices. You can also sign up for a free e-newsletter of survey tips and guidance.


Rx sports eyewear leader, Rudy Project North America, recently debuted its totally redesigned web site which includes a unique Click to Brick feature enabling consumers to build and place orders for their own custom Rudy Project frame and Rx and have it delivered to their independent eyecare professional to be dispensed.

The consumer has a choice of having their Rx sports eyewear delivered to a Rudy ECP listed on the Dealer Locator or directly to their ECP's office even if their ECP is not an authorized Rudy Dealer. Unlike other industry sites, the Rudy Click to Brick Feature allows the ECP to earn a 100 percent markup on both the Rudy frame and Rx lenses, the company notes. This new web feature is supported by consumer advertising in Men's Health, Outside Magazine, USA Triathlon Life, VeloNews, and countless other sport and active lifestyle magazines.

"Beginning with the Free Gear Deal and Combo Deal and now culminating with this innovative Click to Brick feature we believe that we share in the responsibility to ensure that our product not only "sells in" but also "sells through," said Paul Craig, president and co-founder of Rudy Project North America. "Consumers now have the opportunity to research our product online, custom build it and then get immediate gratification by instantly placing an order and have the eyewear dispensed by a licensed ECP, we are providing a value add that is truly unique in the industry" said Craig.

In addition, "With Rudy Project's 7-Day Guaranteed Delivery on top selling models and 1-Year RX Guarantee against scratching, pitting and chipping, there is no reason to look past Rudy Project's Italian heritage, quality and commitment to service for RX sport and casual needs."


REM Eyewear is introducing REM's E-Club, an exclusive opportunity for a series of special offers from REM Eyewear. Retailers can join the REM Eyewear E-Club now to receive tremendous savings on all of REM Eyewear and BaseCurve best sellers and brands. Registered E-Club members receive one exclusive email offer each week designed only for E-Club customers. Each E-Club "Flash Offer" is available for 24 hours only. Retailers need to be a current REM customer to be part of the E-Club, and need to join here in order to receive E-Club emails. After joining, just stay tuned for REM's next email offer. Members can also unsubscribe at anytime with just one click. Any questions can be directed via email to


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